Monday, July 21, 2014

The Mix & Match Guide to Companion Planting by Josie Jeffery

book cover
The Mix & Match Guide to Companion Planting
by Josie Jeffery

ISBN-13: 9781607746331
Hardback spiral bound:
104 pages
Publisher: Ten Speed Press
Released: March 11th 2014

Source: Review copy from the publisher.

Book Description, Modified from Back Cover:
With its unique split-page mix-and match system, The Mix & Match Guide to Companion Planting is a colorful visual gardening guide to which vegetables, fruits, and herbs grow best with one another, and which do not. All you have to do is choose from the plant directory to find the perfect plant pals. Each central crop has a row of colored dots along the top and bottom of the strip showing its "requirements"--that is, what it's looking for in a companion plant, whether it be a support while growing and a pest deterrent or a soil conditioner and a nutrient accumulator. Turn the strips and match the dots to find your plants' best friends. The more dots that match, the better the chance your plants will flourish.

My Review:
The Mix & Match Guide to Companion Planting will help you match up plants that will help each other out, but it gave only a minimal, generalized explanation about how companion planting actually works.

The last half of the book has each page divided into 3 strips. The top strips are plants that will deal with above-ground problems, like it attracts beneficial insects, deters pests, prevents disease, acts as a physical support for climbing plants, acts as a sacrificial trap crop, or provides shade for other crops. The middle strip contains the garden crops that you are trying to find above ground and below ground companions for. The bottom strip contains plants that help with below ground problems like it supplies nutrients, deters soil pests, suppresses weeds, improves the soil, or improves flavor or yield.

Each card has a code along the top and/or bottom of the card to indicate what that plant does (for the companion crop) or what that plant needs help with (for the main crop) listed. You find the main crop that you wish to grow, then flip through the top and bottom cards to match as many of these codes as you can to find a good companion. Unfortunately, the page explaining the code meanings was near the front of the book instead of with the mix-and-match pages, but knowing the codes isn't actually necessary to use the chart.

Each plant's card/strip gave some growing information. There were specific "good to grow with" or "avoid growing with" plants listed on some individual plant cards. Many of these mix-and-match groupings were new to me, so I can't currently comment on how effective this matching system is. However, this mix-and-match system is very easy to use.

The crops covered by this book: Central Crop - apple, apricot, asparagus, beet, broccoli, cabbage, carrot, cauliflower, celery, cherry, cucumber, eggplant, grape, lettuce, parsnip, peach, pear, pepper, plum, potatoes, raspberries & other cane fruit, strawberries, tomato, turnip, zucchini & summer squash.

Above Ground Companion - basil, chervil, chives, cilantro & coriander, dill, fennel, garlic, hyssop, lavender, leek, mint, nasturtium, onion, oregano, parsley, pyrethrum, rosemary, rue, sage, savory, southernwood, sunflowers, sweet corn, thyme, wormwood.

Below Ground Companion - alfalfa, beans (bush and pole), fava beans, borage, caraway, chamomile, clover, fenugreek, foxglove, horehound, larkspur, lupine, marigold, marjoram, mustard, pea, petunia, phacelia, radish, rye, spinach, tansy, tarragon, bird's foot trefoil, yarrow.

The first 46 pages of the book covered other information about gardening. Much of it was extremely basic information about gardening that I'd expect anyone interested in companion gardening to already know. Yet the information was so brief that you'll need to look up further information if you want to successfully do that activity.

If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.

Monday, July 7, 2014

The Victorian City by Judith Flanders

This is another review done as a member of Amazon Vine, so I'm posting a description of the book with a direct link to my review on Amazon.

book cover
The Victorian City:
Everyday Life in Dickens' London
by Judith Flanders

ISBN-13: 9781250040213
Hardcover: 544 pages
Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books
Released: July 15, 2014

Book Description, Modified from Back Cover:
An extraordinary, revelatory portrait of everyday life on the streets of Dickens' London. The nineteenth century was a time of unprecedented change, and nowhere was this more apparent than London. In only a few decades, the capital grew from a compact Regency town into a sprawling metropolis of 6.5 million inhabitants, the largest city the world had ever seen. Technology—railways, street-lighting, and sewers—transformed both the city and the experience of city-living, as London expanded in every direction.

Now Judith Flanders, one of Britain’s foremost social historians, explores the world portrayed so vividly in Dickens’ novels, showing life on the streets of London in colorful, fascinating detail. Judith Flanders leads us through the markets, transport systems, sewers, rivers, slums, alleys, cemeteries, gin palaces, chop-houses and entertainment emporia of Dickens' London, to reveal the Victorian capital in all its variety, vibrancy, and squalor.

My Review: Link to my review on Amazon.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Love Isn't Supposed to Hurt by Christi Paul

book cover
Love Isn't Supposed to Hurt
by Christi Paul

ISBN-13: 9781414374130
ebook: 200 pages
Publisher: Tyndale House Publishers
Released: May 18, 2012

Source: A free eBook offer.

Book Description, Modified from Back Cover:
Like millions of other women, Christi Paul blamed herself for the emotional abuse heaped on her by her first husband, whose violent, profanity-laced tirades left her feeling as though she had no value, no self-worth, and nowhere to turn for help. Then one day, when Christi was taking refuge in a church parking lot, the verse “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding” popped into her head. In that moment she realized she did have someplace to turn after all. Holding fast to her faith, Christi began the arduous process of rebuilding her self-image and regaining control of her life.

My Review:
Love Isn't Supposed to Hurt is a memoir about (primarily) verbal abuse. I appreciate that the author wrote this book. A teenage girl that I care about seems remarkably willing to date boys that treat her poorly, and this book helped me understand better where she might be coming from emotionally. The author explained how she meet and married a man who was verbally abusive, what it took for her to leave the situation, and how she healed afterward. She includes some questions in the back that she found helpful to think through.

The author was very clear that verbal abuse is wrong and no one deserves this abuse. However, one of the author's counselors apparently wanted her to discover so many positive outcomes from surviving the experience that she'd be willing to thank her husband for the abuse. Huh?! That's sick! As a Christian, she should be thanking God for bringing positive lessons and growth from the experience, not thanking the person who did the abuse. Anyway, it's worth reading despite this.

If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.

Excerpt: Read an excerpt using Google Preview.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

The Splendid Century by W.H. Lewis

book cover
The Splendid Century
by W. H. Lewis

Hardcover: 306 pages
Publisher: William Sloane Associates
Released: 1953

Source: Bought at a used book sale.

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
Pleasures and palaces are, of course, a part of this vivid account of France under Louis XIV, but the author also explores the political, economic, social and artistic forces that developed during the long reign of the Sun-King.

The opening account of Louis XIV's private life and loves sets the pace for this provocative account of a century that was a time of transition, dissatisfaction and progress. This was the age of Moliere, Racine, Corneille...the age of the salons and the graceful correspondents. And also an age that sent thousands of Huguenots to the galleys, the notorious death ships that served as seventeenth-century concentration camps.

My Review:
The Splendid Century is a history covering various aspects of life in France during the reign of Louis XIV. The first chapter was mainly about the king's scandalous love life and grandiose beliefs about himself. The rest of the book talked about what life was like for everyone else.

The author researched records, correspondence, and journals to get the impressions of people living at that time. He discussed why Louis XIV set certain policies, how they worked out in reality, and you could see how this set things up for the people in later generations to decide they didn't need nobles and royalty at all.

The author talked about what life was like for nobles, especially those at court, and for commoners of all sorts. He covered the religious institutions and the religious conflicts, how the army had been organized and was re-organized, what life was like in the country and in the towns, how doctors were trained, how women were educated and how this changed, what life was like on galley ships and on passenger sailing ships, some of the court etiquette, and some well-known writers of the time.

No topic was covered in every detail, but he gave the reader a taste of what he thought was most interesting. I did not find every topic equally interesting, but I liked how he explained the impact of various actions and policies rather than simply giving facts. Overall, I'd recommend this book to those interested in this period of French history if they don't mind the somewhat academic (e.g. "this is how the tax system worked") nature of parts of it.

If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Stuff Matters by Mark Miodownik

This is another review done as a member of Amazon Vine, so I'm posting a description of the book with a direct link to my review on Amazon.

book cover
Stuff Matters
by Mark Miodownik

ISBN-13: 9780544236042
Hardcover: 272 pages
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Released: May 27, 2014

Book Description, Modified from Back Cover:
Why is glass see-through? What makes elastic stretchy? Why does a paper clip bend? Why does any material look and behave the way it does? These are the sorts of questions that Mark Miodownik is constantly asking himself. A globally-renowned materials scientist, Miodownik has spent his life exploring objects as ordinary as an envelope and as unexpected as concrete cloth, uncovering the fascinating secrets that hold together our physical world.

From the teacup to the jet engine, the silicon chip to the paper clip, the plastic in our appliances to the elastic in our underpants, our lives are overflowing with materials. Full of enthralling tales of the miracles of engineering that permeate our lives, Stuff Matters will make you see stuff in a whole new way

My Review: Link to my review on Amazon.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Natural Disasters That Changed the World by Rodney Castleden

book cover
Natural Disasters That Changed the World
by Rodney Castleden

ISBN-13: 9780785822288
Hardback: 576 pages
Publisher: Chartwell Books
Released: April 1, 2007

Source: Bought the book.

Book Description from Goodreads:
Contains 170 natural disasters, their causes, their impact on people and landscape, and their significance on the world around us.

My Review:
Natural Disasters That Changed the World is a world history viewed through brief accounts of the natural disasters that influenced history. While mainly about natural disasters, several shipwrecks were included even though the disaster was mainly caused by human error. Not every disaster had a clear "this changed the way we do things" summary at the end, though sometimes the point was how we keep building in areas or doing things that will lead to tragedy when the natural disaster strikes again.

Even with a book this thick, it would have been difficult for the author to go in-depth on 170 different disasters. He briefly described the mechanics of how each type of natural disaster (hurricane, earthquake, tornado, landslide, flooding, etc.) occurs at least once in the book. Most of the entries were about 2 pages long and read like a newspaper report--this happened at this time, then this happened, and this much damage was done." From the back cover description I'd read, I expected a lot of first-hand reports of what it was like to live through the event, but first-hand accounts were rarely given and usually brief.

Overall, the book was interesting, but the disasters all started to sound similar by the end of the book. The events chosen for the pre-history part of the book were speculative and vague, and I didn't really get any value out of them. I think I would have enjoyed more details and first-hand accounts for fewer--though significant--disasters rather than such brief overviews.

If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

The Sea and Civilization by Lincoln Paine

This is another review done as a member of Amazon Vine, so I'm posting a description of the book with a direct link to my review on Amazon.

book cover
The Sea and Civilization
by Lincoln Paine

ISBN-13: 9781400044092
Hardcover: 784 pages
Publisher: Knopf
Released: October 29, 2013

Book Description, Modified from Back Cover:
A monumental retelling of world history through the lens of maritime enterprise, revealing in breathtaking depth how people first came into contact with one another by ocean and river, lake and stream, and how goods, languages, religions, and entire cultures spread across and along the world’s waterways, bringing together civilizations and defining what makes us most human.

Lincoln Paine takes us back to the origins of long-distance migration by sea with our ancestors’ first forays from Africa and Eurasia to Australia and the Americas. He demonstrates the critical role of maritime trade to the civilizations of ancient Egypt, Mesopotamia, and the Indus Valley. He reacquaints us with the great seafaring cultures of antiquity like those of the Phoenicians and Greeks, as well as those of India and Southeast and East Asia, who parlayed their navigational skills, shipbuilding techniques, and commercial acumen to establish thriving overseas colonies and trade routes in the centuries leading up to the age of European expansion. And finally, his narrative traces how commercial shipping and naval warfare brought about the enormous demographic, cultural, and political changes that have globalized the world throughout the post–Cold War era.

My Review: Link to my review on Amazon.